Controversial Links Market pop-up bar hits major setback

Pic: Michael Gillen
Pic: Michael Gillen

Controversial plans for a pop-up bar at next year’s Links Market have hit a major issue.

Stagecoach has refused permission for the developer to move on to its land for next year’s annual market.

The decision comes after significant community and political pressure sparked by the decision taken by Fife Licensing Board to approve a bid by S&D Leisure to create an unprecedented pop-up bar at the old bus garages, adjacent to the traditionally alcohol free market.

It would have accommodated up to 200 people, and, after the market closed each night, would have remained open until 2:00am. exclusively for showmen, their workers and families.

The board’s decision horrified local councillors and residents groups.

On Tuesday, the issue was on the agenda of a meeting of Linktown Tenants and Residents Association, attended by a number of local politicians.

Tonight, David Torrance, Kirkcaldy MSP, said he had contacted Stagecoach to highlight community concerns over the initiative.

He said the bar proposal had caused “much anxiety” in the local community “particularly those living in close proximity to the Esplanade.”

He said: “As a matter of urgency, I contacted Stagecoach to discuss its position as land owners

“I am absolutely delighted to have secured confirmation that it will not give permission to allow the proposed pop-up bar on Kirkcaldy Esplanade during the Links Market.”

He added: “I hope this news will bring local residents and families across Fife some relief.”

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The company behind the pop-up bar has operated such ventures successfully at various markets and events in England.

It hosted its first Scottish pop up bar at the Glasgow Christmas Market last year.

It applied to come to the Links Market in 2018 without any objections, but the move was too late to set up the bar.

This year it lodged a planning application on July 31 which appears not to have been picked up by local community groups or the police who did not raise a formal objection, but did speak against it at the recent licensing board meeting.

The lack of public awareness over such a potentially contentious application was one area of concern raised by councillors.

They were also concerned the pop-up bar flew in the face of work done to ensure the market – which can attract up to 180,000 people – remained alcohol free.

Councillor Alistair Cameron, whose Kirkcaldy Central ward hosts the long-established market every Spring, and who voted against granting the licence, said he was inundated with calls expressing concern over selling alcohol at the event.

He welcomed Stagecoach’s stance, and said it was the result of pressure from the community.

He also appealed to the company behind the pop-up bar not to look for an alternative venue, and respect the views of residents.

Cllr Cameron said: “I’ve been to a number of meetings in the area, and the same concerns were raised time and again.

“Residents in the Links area were astounded and horrified by the decision to give the pop-up bar the go-ahead.

“The local Tenants and Residents Association was set to make a formal objection, and, this morning, I met with local publicans who also had concerns.

“They have no issue with competition, but were concerned at the way this was coming in.

“There never has been alcohol at the Links Market, and there is no need for it.”

Cllr Cameron urged the company to accept the views of the community.

“There are no issues with the company or how it runs its operations – the quality, and management, of its bar wasn’t the issue. It just picked the wrong event,” He said. “If we were staging a major festival it would be the sort of business you would want there, but it wasn’t for the Links Market.

“I do hope it respects the view of the community and doesn’t look for an alternative site for its pop-up bar, because there really isn’t one.”